This pasta salad is super easy to throw together and is surprisingly filling! I was also really happy with how creamy and delicious it was, despite the fact that I used part-skim ricotta. It looks and tastes like a really creamy, guilt-inducing pasta salad, when really it’s quite innocent!
Half of the reason that I wanted to make this pasta salad is that I wanted to try out a technique that I’ve been seeing around the internet: roasting garlic in the microwave. I ruined one head of garlic in the process, but I think I got it right after that. The end result isn’t as caramelized as real, oven roasted garlic, but the flavor is definitely good enough to make this technique worth it when you’re in a hurry. Roasting garlic in an oven can take almost an hour and this only takes 2 minutes – literally!
There are a few different techniques that I’ve seen, some microwaving for a minute or so, and some for up to 8 minutes (with water added), but I found 2 minutes with no water to be just right for me. I’m sure every microwave is different and each head of garlic will require a slightly different amount of time to cook, so I suggest microwaving in small, one minute increments until you get the technique just right. You want the garlic to be soft, and very fragrant, not brown and hard. Microwaving past the point of softness will only lead you down the road to burnville, and believe me, it doesn’t taste or smell pretty!
Oh, one more thing. If you have access to inexpensive fresh basil, it would be to-die-for in this recipe. Just add it on in with the spinach or even in place of the spinach!
- 1 head garlic $0.59
- ½ Tbsp olive oil $0.09
- 1 lb. pasta shells $1.29
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese $2.45
- ¼ cup grated parmesan $0.23
- to taste salt & pepper $0.05
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes $2.50
- 3 cups baby spinach $1.33
- Using a sharp knife, cut approximately ½ inch off the top of the head of garlic. Place the garlic bulb in a small bowl or dish and drizzle ½ tablespoon of olive oil over the exposed cloves. Cover the bowl with an inverted plate. Microwave on high, in one minute increments, until the garlic is soft and fragrant (about 2 minutes). Use caution when touching the dishes, they will be very hot. Allow the garlic to cool.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add the pasta, and cook for 7-10 minutes or until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the starchy pasta cooking water.
You can find complete recipes of this ROASTED GARLIC PASTA SALAD in budgetbytes.com